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La Réunion des Chefs

In November 2012 Pierre Koffmann celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening of his legendary three-star restaurant La Tante Claire in London. Pierre Koffmann was the third chef in the UK to be awarded three Michelin stars. To celebrate this and three and half decades of culinary legacy, Pierre Koffmann had organised two special 'Le Réunion des Chefs' dinners at his current eponymous restaurant at The Berkeley Hotel, cooked by Pierre Koffmann and nine of his protégés. The first dinner took place on Sunday 11 November 2012 with Bruno Loubet of Bistrot Bruno Loubet in London, Eric Chavot of the (soon to open) Brasserie Chavot at the Westbury Hotel in London, Raphael Duntoye of La Petite Maison in London, Tom Kitchin of The Kitchin in Edinburgh and William Curley, London chocolatier extraordinaire. The second dinner on Monday 12 November 2012 was cooked by Eric Chavot, Paul Rhodes of Rhodes Bakeries, Tom Aikens of Tom Aikens Restaurant, Helena Puolakka of Skylon restaurant and Claude Lamarche of The Arts Club (all in London).
Pierre Koffmann has been one of my food heroes for many years so, as I was in London that weekend, I immediately booked a ticket (£100 per person) for the dinner on Sunday 11 November 2012. Here's an impression of the 'La Réunion des Chefs' dinner.

When we (a friend, hubby and I) arrived, the restaurant was already packed with Pierre Koffmann fans and as you could tell from the energy emerging from the restaurant, the crowd couldn't wait for the dinner to start.

After a warm welcome by Pierre Koffmann's wife Claire, a basket with mixed rolls and brioche and ready-sliced pissaladière arrived. Koffmann's is famous for this bread basket and the brioche was wonderfully buttery. Delicious pissaladière with lovely sweet caramelised onions.

The first course (by Bruno Loubet"): Soupe à l'Ail et Oeuf mollet et Cepe - Garlic and onion soup with a soft-poached egg and ceps. A rich and gutsy soup with a lovely thick consistency and wonderfully sweet onion and garlic flavours. Lovely poached egg with a slightly runny yolk. The ceps added texture and nice nutty flavours.

Second course (by Raphael Duntoye): Salade de Palourdes, Salsifis et Champignons - Salad of clams, salsify and mushrooms. An elegantly presented, crisp salad with fresh and firm clams, braised shallots, artichokes, chanterelles, almonds and a fantastic vinaigrette. The salad was garnished with some coriander cress which added a lovely fresh touch. An exquisite salad with precise (earthy) flavours and great textures, especially the almonds.

Third course (by Eric Chavot): Carpaccio de Chevreuil et Chou Rouge mariné, aigres-doux de Champignons Japonais - Venison carpaccio with pickled red cabbage and sweet & sour mushrooms. Tender and delicately flavoured venison carpaccio, served with a nice and sharp mustardy dressing and a few crunchy croutons. With the carpaccio came a small bowl with really lovely crunchy pickled red cabbage and strips of green apple; nice sweet and sharp flavours and a touch of warmth from the pickling spices.

Fourth course (by Tom Kitchin): Homard Écossais, Beurre Escargot, Calamar et Girolles - Creel-caught Scottish lobster with snail butter, squid & girolles. A wonderful, gratinated lobster, the snail butter (with herbs and garlic) giving it a rich and buttery finish. The lobster meat was nice and succulent and not in any way overpowered by the snail butter. Lovely tender squid and the girolles provided a nice earthy touch. A rich and luxurious lobster dish.

Next, fifth course (by Pierre Koffmann): Pied de Chochon, Tante Claire, Nouvelle Version - New-style pig's trotter stuffed with sweetbreads & morels. Pig's trotters stuffed with sweetbreads and morels; a Pierre Koffmann classic and one of his signature dishes at La Tante Claire. A dish that is also known for being incredibly rich. The new style version was hearty but very digestible compared to the original. Terrific crispy piece of pig's trotter and a crunchy piece of crackling, served with a well-reduced Madeira sauce which had a nice hint of smokiness to it. Also on the plate was some delicious sauerkraut, tender sweetbreads and some juicy morels. 

Last and sixth course, dessert (by William Curley): Mousse au Chocolat Amedei, Dacquoise aux Noisettes, Glace aux Pruneaux et Armagnac, Sauce à l'Orange - Amedei chocolate mousse on hazelnut dacquoise with prune & Armagnac ice cream and orange sauce. A brilliant light and airy chocolate mousse with a chocolate glaze. Underneath the mousse was a perfectly made, brittle hazelnut dacquoise and some chocolate hazelnut paste. The prune and Armagnac ice cream was wonderfully boozy and creamy. Lovely freshness and sharpness from the orange sauce. Hubby rarely finishes chocolate desserts but he fell for this one.

La Réunion des Chefs was a delightful evening with fantastic food prepared by Pierre Koffmann and his protégés, who all have become great chefs in their own right. Each individual dish carried their personal signature. From my table I could see into the kitchen and it was fascinating and touching at the same time to see Pierre Koffmann and these great chefs cooking food as if they were all still at La Tante Claire. This was as close as I could ever hope to get to La Tante Claire; Partir c'est mourir un peu, but not having been is worse. Chef d'oeuvre, l'oeuvre d'un Chef!

From left to right: William Curley, Tom Kitchin, Eric Chavot, Pierre Koffmann, Bruno Loubet, Raphael Duntoye
(photo: Network London PR)

Posted 10-12-2012


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